Lincoln’s Log 1-31-2021

Question of the Week

“What is this? A new teaching with authority.”
Mk 1:27b

“What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?”
Question of the Week

Over the past few months, we have been including a “Question of the Week” in the bulletin (near the week’s bible readings), in the weekly Powerpoint (the last slide of Mass), and in our weekly Flocknotes. These questions relate to the weekly Gospel and are meant to help us think more deeply and personally about the Gospel. They also make great starters for faith conversations (or “faith-talks”) in the car on the way home from Mass or around the dinner table or anywhere a faith conversation could be appropriate.

This week’s question got me thinking. “What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?” What am I certain of about Jesus?

Several years ago, I taught a course on the historical Jesus at the University of Wyoming. In that course, we sifted through the historical evidence and various theories about what we could know about Jesus as a historical figure. It was a controversial time in the historical study of Jesus with the “Jesus Seminar” making strange and unfounded claims about what was “historical” and what was not. But even in the midst of controversy, there are some facts most historians would agree with.

However, these historical facts are not what I am most certain of about Jesus. Reading through academic analysis and historical studies did not make me more certain (or less certain) about Jesus. It clarified some points and obscured others. It gave my faith deeper roots in history. But it did not tell me the most important thing about Jesus and the thing I am most certain of.

It did not tell me that Jesus is alive. It did not tell me that Jesus is someone I can talk with in prayer, serve in caring for others, or encounter in the sacraments. It is these things that I am most certain of about Jesus.

Pope Francis said it well in his encyclical on evangelization, “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life for you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” The fact that Jesus is alive and available today is what I am most certain of. I hope that this message is what I can tell others about Jesus with the most assurance.

How about you?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-24-2021

Review: Love your enemies

“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.”

Psalm 25:4

Over my “staycation” this past week, I spent a lot of time praying and reading. One of the books I read was Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks (You may know him as the author of The Conservative Heart). I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the division in our country and our world.

As the title indicates, he names the source of division as contempt – the view that the person you disagree with is unworthy of consideration. Rather than engaging in genuine disagreement or debate, many of us are likely to dismiss the person we disagree with as unworthy. One jarring statistic from the book was that “in 1960, only 5 percent of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other political party. By 2010, that number was 40 percent, and no doubt has risen from there.”

We are deeply divided politically, and this division is spilling over into the other facets of life, including our religious and spiritual lives.

How do we begin to heal this division? How do we move beyond simply tolerating those we disagree with to loving them?

Brooks offers some very practical guidance on how to heal this division. Here are his five summary rules:

  1. Stand up to the Man. Refuse to be used by the powerful.
  2. Escape the bubble. Go where you’re not invited, and say things people don’t expect.
  3. Say no to contempt. Treat others with love and respect, even when it’s difficult.
  4. Disagree better. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas.
  5. Tune out: Disconnect more from the unproductive debates.

Reducing the book to one sentence, Brooks writes, “Go find someone with whom you disagree; listen thoughtfully; and treat him or her with respect and love. The rest will flow naturally from there.”

This is good advice for all of us in this politically divided world. If you are distressed by our current division and looking for practical ways to love those you disagree with, I would urge you to read this book.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-17-2021

Staying with Jesus

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ They went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.”
Jn. 1:39

This week we enter my favorite season of the church year: Ordinary Time. It doesn’t sound glorious or exciting, but Ordinary Time is my favorite season of the church year. Why?

I think my love for Ordinary Time comes from the fact that it is NOT glorious or exciting. Ordinary Time is about the basics of discipleship. It is a time of learning what it means to follow Jesus in the day to day aspects of life.

Let’s face it. Most of the time, being a disciple is not flashy. It involves getting up in the morning, praying, going to work or school, doing chores, eating, sleeping. The normal things of life. But when we do these ordinary things as disciples of Jesus, going where he leads us and responding to the promptings of the Spirit, they take on a deeper meaning. Following Jesus makes these ordinary things shine with divine light. Simple acts, done in love, become extraordinary.

I think that insight is central to the Gospel this week. The story of the Gospel is simple. It outlines an encounter with a rabbi with some disciples of John the Baptist. However, this encounter changes everything for those disciples. The rabbi invites them to “Come and see” what he is about and they stay with him.

That is our invitation this Ordinary Time. We are invited to stay with Jesus. As we spend time with Him, we learn that love is present in the most ordinary activities of life. No glory. No excitement. But the more we stay with Jesus, the deeper our souls become and the more we are empowered to love.

Discipleship takes place in the day to day routine of life. As we enter this season of Ordinary Time, let’s stay with Jesus. It is the most important thing we can do.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-10-2021

Looking Back at 2020

“My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
Is. 55:11

2020 was a rough year. Here is a year-end review from Joyce Rupp that I use every year. I hope it is helpful for you as you review your year.

As you look back on the year just completed (2020):

  1. What name would you give to your journey the past year? How would you describe it to one of your friends? What image or metaphor would you use to talk about it?
  1. What were some of your “epiphanies” of the past year (your discoveries of the Holy One in your midst)? How did you grow because of them?
  1. Who were your wise persons? What did they reveal to you? How did this influence your life?
  1. Did any of your hopes and dreams become a reality?
  1. What was most satisfying about the year? What was the least satisfying?
  1. How did your experience of the past year affect the world in which you live?

As you look to the year before you (2021):

  1. What name would you like your new year’s journey to have? What gifts do you bring with you into the year before you?
  1. Do you find resistance within you? Of what are you most afraid as you enter a new year?
  1. What is your greatest need for the coming year?
  1. Who do you bring with you for your support and strength as you begin to journey through the year?
  1. How is your relationship with the Holy One as you pause on the threshold of the new year’s vast landscape? What is at the heart of your new year’s prayer?
  1. What do you hope to contribute to society in this coming year?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader